I would first like to introduce myself to you, since I was welcomed in the module team.
I'm foremost a Microsoft Dynamics NAV/Navision freelance consultant/developer with 22 year experience. In 1995 I started the Dynamics User Group as an online community. First only with a few friends in the industry and a standard listserv mailing list. Today
we have approx. 150000 members and 200000 monthly visitors using the sites forums, blogs, downloads and wiki. After 3-4 platform changes over the time, the site is today running on a Community Server 2008. And now if you think that with a site of this size
I would make a lot of money and that I therefore can afford the use the Community Server/Telligent platform, then you're wrong. Up until a few years ago I has only been 100% a hobby and the few sponsors I had on the site just cover the costs, despite a free
platform license. But the license can only be used with the old Community Server 2008 system. And upgrading is out of my sites financial capabilities. And having worked with the ASP.NET platform since it was invented, I mostly know my way around in the source
code. I'm doing smaller C# changes and projects, but mostly CSS / design changes.
In my current site the forums are the center of the site. This is where most of the activity takes place in a multitude of 68 different forums in 10-12 different groups. But I also wrote a little about this in another post, so enough about that.
If I'm going to migrate into DNN and the DNN xChange module then I need to be sure that my site continues to stay the most popular Microsoft Dynamics forum. And one of the keys here is to make sure that users find it easy to post both questions and answers,
and especially to find and read the already asked questions and answers. Everything with the visitors special area of interests.
Previously I have been very focused on a traditional forum like YAF.NET or ActiveForums. But the more I work with DNN xChange then I see more and more opportunities with this. Its much simpler and more modern user interface. Plus none of the existing Forum
modules for DNN doesn't fulfill my requirements. And the only thing the xChange module misses are really only a few important and some minor things. ;)
Categories as the Forum Structure
The most important is something to replace the current Forum structure. And although the Social Group functionality under DNN could replace the current Forum Group structure, then it still really isnt' enough. A hierarchical category structure could solve this
issue. Especially if it is implemented in a way where the "forum groups" (main-categories) and "forums" (sub-categories) can be accessed in a forum type of implementation.
My main inspiration for how I could imagine it to be implemented is the way MSDN are doing at
Here they allow the user to select the individual categories (groups and forums), and thus filtering which questions the user sees. Holding the mouse over the category displays the category description.
First of all I'm 100% in for the way the current module uses the DNN standard taxonomy for its tags. In the same way the Categories should use the taxonomy for the hierarchical categories. And would like to see the solution this as a first step on the way to
be able to include blog posts, wikipedia entries, events and all the other future modules which someday hopefully will be integrated into xChange. This way the same categories (and tags) could be used to bind content together system wide, and related information
could this way be displayed everywhere in the system. Category/tag related blog posts could be displayed next to the related questions etc. And user would eventually be able to subscribe to specific categories/tags and this way receive notifications/rss feeds.
That brings me over to the next "major" issue - currently the xChange does not have any RSS feed available. This feature is heavily used today, allowing users to "subscribe" to individual forums. In xChange I would like that the users would
be able to subscribe both to all questions as well questions made with specific document types/categories/tags or by specific users (or user roles).
Ideally in a way where the user could build his own feed, and save the settings under his user profile. Evoc Social is actually doing something similar for the activity feeds/journals (with their Custom Feed Builder). But the Journal in Evoc Social has also
been extended (with more text per journal post), so we might not be able to do the same.
Before leaving the subject of categories/tags, then I would like to suggest that points are calculated with the ability to filter the results per category/tag. This way it will be possible to display a leaderboard based on specific categories/tags and this
way showing who is the "expert" within that specific area. So when displaying the leaderboard on a category page, then it would be based on points earned with that specific category. Of course not all types of point giving activity would apply within
a category and should there not be included, example points given for a fully entered user profile etc.
I know my post already have been very long, and I'm sorry about. But I have one more thing I like to discuss here.
How should the module structure of xChange be in the future?
I am not even going to mention that it of course should be possible to specify individual templates for all individual views. But I would like to see that the xChange module could be added in a similar way as the new DNN Blog (ver. 6RC). If you're not familiar
with the new DNN Blog module, then upon adding the module to a page you can specify which "view" (called templates by DNN Blog) to use (choose between Default, authorlist, calendar, category list, tag cloud etc.), but also which category/author to
view for that instance of the module. This way it is possible to design your DNN pages quite easy without the need of a more advanced templating setup. For xChange this would also make a lot of sense. Having the list of questions as the default view, and Category
Lists, Related Tag Lists, Leaderboard etc. Later it would be a great way integrate Events, Blogs, Wikis etc.
Besides the first two suggestions (Hierarchical categories and RSS feeds) then the others are not something I would die if I didn't have. But I'll love to hear your comments, am I the only one who would like to see this?